Pop culture female friendships that owe their DNA to Anne (of Green Gables) and Diana
"...you know, a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul."
Growing up as an only child, I always romanticized the idea of having a Best Friend. Don't get me wrong — I had plenty of regular old friends, but the other half of their silver, heart-shaped necklace was always already promised to someone else. In fact, I thought far more about the elusive confidante who'd share the key to their diary with me (and only me) than I did about boys, love or weddings. Eventually, envious of my peers who had the built-in luxury of having a sister to fill that role and frustrated by lackluster contributions from my small army of stuffed animals, I turned to TV, movies and books.
It was through reading that I found Anne Shirley. Not only was I drawn to her frenetic curiosity and troublemaking wit, but she shared my desire to finally find "a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul." Anne found her "bosom friend" in Diana, and though the two bickered at times, they were inseparable, unbreakable — and intimately platonic. That special brand of friendship that feels a little like romance was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. And the fact that their bond was valued more than finding a man, or even achieving academic perfection, was revolutionary to me at the time. It was leaps and bounds away from the catty dynamic I saw girls pushed into both onscreen and on the playground.
Of course, my ideas about friendship evolved as I grew up. I learned that it's never good to make one person your whole world (in love or in friendship) and realized, as Mindy Kaling bluntly put it on an episode of The Mindy Project, "Best friend is not a person… it's a tier," of many different kinds of people you love for many different reasons.
Still, I can't help but see Anne's friendship legacy carried on in some of my most treasured TV shows, movies and books. The ones that are doing the work to change our preconceived ideas about female friendship and tell more interesting stories about how women relate to one another in a society that would be cool with us clawing at each other for all of eternity. The ones that realize the magic that comes out of women supporting each other above all else, ride or die.
As an ode to the one of the original pairs of kindred spirits, here's a rundown of some favourite female friendships in popular culture that owe their DNA to Anne and Diana.
Ann and Leslie on Parks and Recreation
When ambitious, goofy Leslie met low key, pragmatic Ann, it was love at first waffle breakfast. They showed their devotion to each other in different ways: Leslie by reminding her friend how much she matters through creative compliments like "Ann, you rainbow-infused space shark" or "Ann, you are a beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox"; Ann by giving Leslie a shoulder to rest her head on no matter the time, place or circumstance. And they remained each other's Number One, even after Ann moved away from Pawnee.
Meredith and Cristina on Grey's Anatomy
While fans of the show were busy shipping Meredith and McDreamy, Grey's Anatomy's one true romance emerged in a different form: through the bond of prickly powerhouses Dr. Grey and Dr. Yang. After meeting on the first day of their surgical internship, the two quickly became each other's dance partner, drinking buddy and constant through all of life's ups and downs, which, at Seattle Grace, involves heartbreak, bomb explosions, shootings, and just about every type of vehicular crash you can imagine. As Meredith put it, they're each other's "person". The one who fills all the gaps left behind by the men in their lives.
Bridget, Carmen, Lena and Tibby of Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Like Anne and Diana before them, best friends Bridget, Carmen, Lena and Tibby seemed to have a little mystic power on their side bringing — and keeping — them together. In the case of the Maryland high schoolers who, at the beginning of the first book were about to depart for their first summer apart, this sprinkle of magic came in the form of an old pair of jeans that just happened to fit them all perfectly, despite their drastically different heights and body types. Acting as pretty astute metaphor for the intangible connection shared by childhood friends, and a convenient plot device, their magical denim bottoms both underscored and fueled the four girls' connection to one another, even as they began to grow and change.
Thelma and Louise of Thelma & Louise
It doesn't get much more iconic than this ride or die duo. Thelma, a housewife, and Louise, a waitress, were already close before we meet them, but their untouchable bond is cemented when Louise shoots and kills a man who tried to rape her tipsy friend. Now, literal partners in crime, the two head off toward Mexico and freedom. And when they're faced with being caught and charged for their crimes? They squeeze each other's hands and drive off a cliff into the Grand Canyon, fearlessly escaping a world that did nothing but bring them down, together.
Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda on Sex and the City
Whether you love the show, or cringe at its oh-so-early-2000s look and outlook on life, this list just wouldn't be complete without the Manhattanite foursome. Though they certainly had their differences and fallouts, the core four weathered the storm of adulthood together, through countless brunches, moves and marriages. Perhaps Carrie described their bond best when she called her friends her "soulmates," there to provide the commitment, support and companionship usually attributed to a romantic partner. Men, even the ones they dated and married, were then simply around for "fun".
Abbi and Ilana on Broad City
Repping a whole new wave of fearless females taking on the big city, this pair redefines what it means to be close. In fact, the first scene of the entire series involves the two engaging in mindless chit chat via FaceTime while one of them is deep into the deed with a male suitor (Ahem!). Between being each other's emergency contact, partner in all shenanigans, chaperone through every bad trip and go-to for a healthy dose of body positivity (including all bum-related compliments), they basically eliminate the need for having any other friends — or romantic partners. As Ilana plainly puts it to Abbi, "YOU are my best friend. Don't you ever call anybody else that."
Head over to cbc.ca/anne to see Anne and Diana's friendship unfold all over again.